University of Santo Tomas sent the best-of-three UAAP Season 82 Juniors Baseball Finals to a winner-take-all game after a 7-3 triumph over Ateneo, Saturday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
And the Junior Golden Sox leaned on their ace pitcher John Regalado to force a rubber match.
“Pinapahinga namin yung pitcher ko na ito dahil ito lang panlaban ko. Kung siya pinapukol ko nung Game One, alam ko na matatalo kami ngayon,” said UST head coach Jeffrey Santiago as they lost Game One in just five innings last Thursday, 3-15. “Pinahinga ko yan. Hanggang Martes ba ‘yang bata na yan.”
Regalado, a native of Naic, Cavite, pitched a full game, striking out six Blue Eaglets while allowing just four hits.
It also did not help that the league’s best pitcher Zach Urbina was off in this contest.
With Ateneo holding a slim 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third inning, Urbina lost control of his pitches, giving up five straight walks that knotted things up.
Matt San Juan tried to stop the bleeding, but a fielding error by Ateneo shortstop Kean Agcaoili paved the way for the go-ahead run courtesy of Justine Rosales.
Two more unearned runs closed out the inning that gave UST a 5-2 edge.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, parang NU UST lang yan, tambak ka ng kinse tapos tatlo lang lamang namin,” Santiago recalled about their season series with NU that saw them lose 3-15 in the first round before taking an 8-0 win in the second round and a 4-3 victory in the playoff. “Alam ko babalik kami ngayon at makuha namin ito.”
San Juan tried to spark one last Ateneo rally in the final inning but Regalado masterfully ended the game by knocking out Zach Pena for the last out with the bases loaded.
Game Three takes place on Tuesday, October 29 at 9:00 am. UST looks to seal its second Juniors crown while Ateneo hopes to bag its fourth title.
“Medyo na-excite ako. Sana makuha namin yung championship pero yung Ateneo na ito, ang lakas ng opense. Kailangan din namin ng suwerte sa Martes,” said Santiago.